Glenn Beck and left-right confusion

Sim

Registered Member
#1
Here an article I found:


Glenn Beck and left-right confusion

(updated below)
Last night during his CBS interview with Katie Couric, Glenn Beck said he may have voted for Hillary Clinton and that "John McCain would have been worse for the country than Barack Obama." This comment predictably spawned confusion among some liberals and anger among some conservatives. But even prior to that, there had been a palpable increase in the right-wing attacks on Beck -- some motivated by professional competition for the incredibly lucrative industry of right-wing opinion-making, some due to understandable discomfort with his crazed and irresponsible rhetoric, but much of it the result of Beck's growing deviation from GOP (and neoconservative) dogma. Increasingly, there is great difficulty in understanding not only Beck's political orientation but, even more so, the movement that has sprung up around him. Within that confusion lies several important observations about our political culture, particularly the inability to process anything that does not fall comfortably into the conventional "left-right" dichotomy through which everything is understood.
Some of this confusion is attributable to the fact that Beck himself doesn't really appear to have any actual, identifiable political beliefs; he just mutates into whatever is likely to draw the most attention for himself and whatever satisfies his emotional cravings of the moment. Although he now parades around under a rhetorical banner of small-government liberty, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the merger of corporations and government (as exemplified by the Bush-sponsored Wall Street bailout), it wasn't all that long ago that he was advocating exactly the opposite: paying homage to the Patriot Act, defending the Wall Street bailout and arguing it should have been larger, and spouting standard neoconservative cartoon propaganda about The Global Islamo-Nazi Jihadists and all that it justifies. Even the quasi-demented desire for a return to 9/12 -- as though the country should be stuck permanently in a state of terrorism-induced trauma and righteous, nationalistic fury over an allegedly existential Enemy -- is the precise antithesis of the war-opposing, neocon-hating views held by many libertarian and paleoconservative factions with which Beck has now associated himself. Still other aspects of his ranting are obviously grounded in highly familiar, right-wing paranoia.
So it's not surprising that confusion has arisen over someone who transformed overnight from a fairly typical Weekly Standard/Wall St. Journal Editorial Page/Bush-following polemicist into some sort of trans-partisan populist libertarian. All of that, in turn, is colored by the powerful influences on him from the profoundly strange conspiratorial Mormonism pioneered by Cleon Skousen, as documented by the superb Salon series authored by Alexander Zaitchik. Ultimately, Beck himself is just a histrionic intellectual mess: willing to latch onto any hysterical accusations and conspiracy theories that provide some momentary benefit, no matter how contradictory they might be from one moment to the next. His fears, resentments and religious principles seem fixed, but not his political beliefs. Like the establishment leadership of both political parties, he has no core political principles or fixed, identifiable ideology. His description of himself as a "rodeo clown" might be the most perceptive thing he's ever said. Attempts to classify him on the conventional political spectrum are destined to fail, and attempts to demonize him as some sort of standard Republican bogeyman will inevitably be so over-simplified as to be false. Such efforts assume far more coherence than he possesses.
Far more interesting than Beck himself is the increasingly futile effort to classify the protest movement to which he has connected himself. Here, too, confusion reigns. In part, this is due to the fact that these "tea party" and "9/12" protests are composed of factions with wildly divergent views about most everything. From paleoconservatives to Ron-Paul-libertarians to LaRouchians to Confederacy-loving, race-driven Southerners to Christianist social conservatives to single-issue fanatics (abortion, guns, gays) to standard Limbaugh-following, Bush-loving Republicans, these protests are an incoherent mishmash without any cohesive view other than: "Barack Obama is bad." There are unquestionably some highly noxious elements in these groups, but they are far from homogeneous. Many of these people despised the Bush-led GOP and many of them loved it.
Add to all of that the fact that this anti-Obama sentiment is being exploited by run-of-the-mill GOP operatives who have no objective other than to undermine Democrats and return the Republicans to power -- manifestly not the goal of many of the protesters -- and it's impossible to define what this movement is or what is driving it. In many ways, its leadership (both organizationally and in the media) is fundamentally at odds with the participants. How can people who cheered on the Bush/Cheney administration and who want to re-install GOP leaders in power (i.e., Fox News, Limbaugh, the right-wing blogosphere, GOP House members) possibly make common cause in any coherent way with those who are in favor of limited federal government power, reduced debt, privacy, and Constitutional protections -- all the things on which the GOP relentlessly waged war for years? In one important sense, the "tea party" movement is similar to the Obama campaign for "change": it stays sufficiently vague and unspecific to enable everyone to read into what they want, so that people with fundamentally irreconcilable views believe they're part of the same movement.
* * * * *
But all that said, there are some identifiable -- and plainly valid -- underlying causes to these protests that are neither Republican nor Democratic, or even left or right. That's when conventional political language ceases to be useful.
Is opposition to the Wall Street bailout (supported by both parties' establishments) left or right? How about the view that Washington is inherently corrupt and beholden to the richest corporate interests and banks which, through lobbyist influence and vast financial contributions, own and control our political system? Is hostility towards Beltway elites liberal or conservative? Is opposition to the Surveillance State and endless expansions of federal police powers a view of liberals (who vehemently opposed such measures during the Bush era but now sometimes support or at least tolerate them) or conservatives (some of whom -- the Ron Paul faction -- objected just as vigorously, and naturally oppose such things regardless of who is in power as transgressions of the proper limits of government)? Liberals during the Bush era continuously complained about the doubling of the national debt, a central concern of many of these "tea party" protesters. Is the belief that Washington politicians are destroying the economic security of the middle class, while the rich grow richer, a liberal or conservative view? Opposition to endless wars and bankruptcy-inducing imperial policy generally finds as much expression among certain quarters on the Right as it does on the Left.
Some central political debates do break down along standard left-right lines (health care and tax policy). But there are many political issues that defy the conventional Left-Right political drama in which cable news traffics and which serves as the prism -- often the distorting and distracting prism -- for virtually all of our political discourse. Much of the citizen rage manifesting itself in the form of these protests doesn't actually fit comfortably on the left-right spectrum. As Frank Rich accurately observed in the New York Times this weekend:
"Wall Street owns our government," Beck declared in one rant this July. "Our government and these gigantic corporations have merged." He drew a chart to dramatize the revolving door between Washington and Goldman Sachs in both the Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner Treasury departments. A couple of weeks later, Beck mockingly replaced the stars on the American flag with the logos of corporate giants like G.E., General Motors, Wal-Mart and Citigroup (as well as the right’s usual nemesis, the Service Employees International Union). Little of it would be out of place in a Matt Taibbi article in Rolling Stone. Or, we can assume, in Michael Moore’s coming film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which reportedly takes on Goldman and the Obama economic team along with conservative targets.
Are the views expressed in that paragraph liberal or conservative ones? They're neither. Instead, they're the by-product of a completely different dichotomy that is growing in importance: between system insiders and their admirers (those who believe our national political establishment and its elites are basically sound and good) and system outsiders (those whose anger is confined not to one of the two political parties but who instead believe that the political culture itself is fundamentally corrupted and destructive). There are people typically identified as members of either the conventional Right or Left who are, in fact, more accurately described as being in this latter group: those disenchanted with the political culture itself. Anger over the Wall Street bailout and corporate excesses was one example where that trans-partisan disenchantment was evident. The railing by Beck quoted in Rich's paragraph reflects the same thing. And that trans-partisan rage is clearly playing an important role in driving these protest movements.
* * * * *
But crucially, it is the Republican Party and its various appendages -- the same people who presided over massive expansions of debt and federal government power -- that are exploiting this citizen activism, and they're harnessing it for their own petty, partisan ends. There's a reason why Glenn Beck is on Fox News, which is nothing more than a media outlet for the Republican Party, Wall Street and neoconservatism, yet which is also the driving media force behind these protests: it's because, with Democrats in power, the same Republicans who wildly expanded government power when they controlled it now, out of power, suddenly love anti-government sentiment. Currently, opposition to "the government" is easily translated into "opposition to Democrats," and these protests are thus exploited and distorted as partisan Republican tools even though many of the individual protesters are as anti-GOP as they are anti-Democrat. Add to that the Democratic Party's general distaste for citizen activism (especially street protests) as well as its servitude to Wall Street and corporate interests, and Democrats are straitjacketed into ceding this protest movement to GOP operatives, who are cynically exploiting it to promote goals that have nothing to do with -- are even at odds with -- the goals of many of the protesters themselves.
It's true that some of the protesters believe in nothing more than Republican resurgence, and that this movement has become a tool of Fox and the GOP. But much of the citizen anger that is driving these protests and which Glenn Beck is channeling is more complex than that. It has far more to do with deep economic anxieties and anger towards the political establishment and its elites than it does allegiance to one of the two parties or standard left-right debates. It's an overstatement to claim that "there's not a dime's worth of difference between the parties" (see here for yet another example of that), but on many critical issues, the relevant breakdown has little or nothing to do with Republican v. Democrat or even Left v. Right. As the confusion around Glenn Beck and these protests reflect, those distinctions serve far more to obfuscate and distract than they do to explain and clarify.

Glenn Beck and left-right confusion - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com


What do you think about that?
 

MenInTights

not a plastic bag
#2
In spite of its numerous falsehood and mis-accusations its good to see that even flaming liberals understand the the protest movement has nothing specifically to do with Republicans, Democrats or Obama.
 

Tucker

Lion Rampant
#3
In spite of its numerous falsehood and mis-accusations its good to see that even flaming liberals understand the the protest movement has nothing specifically to do with Republicans, Democrats or Obama.
I'd buy that - maybe - if I had ever seen such a spectacle before over health care and whatnot, assorted mundane things; but as it stands I don't think anyone can say what's in all of the dissident demonstrator's hearts. Certainly the racists and frustrated far-right ideologues of the country must be among them, no?
 

Sim

Registered Member
#4
In spite of its numerous falsehood and mis-accusations its good to see that even flaming liberals understand the the protest movement has nothing specifically to do with Republicans, Democrats or Obama.
As far as I know, the author of this article couldn't be further from being a "flaming liberal". He is a "flaming libertarian" who hates big government advocates both in the Republican and the Democratic Party. IIRC, he even claimed in another article that Obama is not any better than Bush, because he has not yet ended voilations of civil rights as promised.

That's why I posted his article: Because it's neither written from a left, nor a right perspective. Greenwald is against the bi-polar political system and above the polarization between left and right, because he values constitutional rights and small governement. I thought that would provide food for thought. And I thought especially you, being critical of big government advocates in the Republican party, might appreciate his views.

Btw, why don't you reply to the points he brought up? If they are "falsehoods", I am sure it won't be difficult for you refuting them and proving them wrong.
 
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MenInTights

not a plastic bag
#5
Btw, why don't you reply to the points he brought up? If they are "falsehoods", I am sure it won't be difficult for you refuting them and proving them wrong.
I'm really not able to defend anyone else, but since I've read his books, I will give it a shot.

First the video:
==>The quote: "I was for the Patriot Act" is taken out of context. Every time Beck as ever said that it has been "I was for the Patriot Act, As long as it has sunsets." The idea being that the PA would only be in effect for 1 or 2 years.
==>Beck originally said he was for the bailout on the day Bush made the famous "This sucker's going down" comment. I think within 5 days he reversed on the bailout and advocated a "let it collapse" stance.
==>The Ron Paul disagreement comes from Paul being a protectionist. I've seen Paul on Beck a few times and they agree more than disagree.
==>He said Bush has a lot of passion and conviction. I'd say that about every President. It may be admirable, but doesn't mean I'm in favor or against the policies.
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Global Islamo-Nazi Jihadists and all that it justifies.
I'll just leave this space blank and we can copy Ahmadinejad's speech to the UN later this week.
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Even the quasi-demented desire for a return to 9/12 -- as though the country should be stuck permanently in a state of terrorism-induced trauma and righteous, nationalistic fury over an allegedly existential Enemy -- is the precise antithesis of the war-opposing, neocon-hating views held by many libertarian and paleoconservative factions with which Beck has now associated himself.
Even Keith Obermann is able to realize that the 9/12 project has nothing to do with returning to fear:
...(I hate everyone talk)...at its core, beneficial, calming, unifying, thoughtful: restore the sense of September 12th, 2001 — not of dread or threat, but of collaboration, of meeting in the middle, of standing together under one flag and trying to improve the conditions of all Americans...(more crazy liberal hate speech)...
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strange conspiratorial Mormonism pioneered by Cleon Skousen
Beck recommends reading the 5000 Year Leap. It's a great history book. Where does religion and conspiracy play a part?
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Ultimately, Beck himself is just a histrionic intellectual mess: willing to latch onto any hysterical accusations and conspiracy theories that provide some momentary benefit, no matter how contradictory they might be from one moment to the next.
Beck is proned to conspiracy theories, but he's not Alex Jones or Art Bell.
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Like the establishment leadership of both political parties, he has no core political principles or fixed, identifiable ideology.
He's a constitutionalists.
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Far more interesting than Beck himself is the increasingly futile effort to classify the protest movement to which he has connected himself. Here, too, confusion reigns. In part, this is due to the fact that these "tea party" and "9/12" protests are composed of factions with wildly divergent views about most everything. From paleoconservatives to Ron-Paul-libertarians to LaRouchians to Confederacy-loving, race-driven Southerners to Christianist social conservatives to single-issue fanatics (abortion, guns, gays) to standard Limbaugh-following, Bush-loving Republicans, these protests are an incoherent mishmash without any cohesive view other than: "Barack Obama is bad." There are unquestionably some highly noxious elements in these groups, but they are far from homogeneous. Many of these people despised the Bush-led GOP and many of them loved it.
Remove the biased comments and that's a fair statement
------------------------------------------------------------------------
How can people who cheered on the Bush/Cheney administration and who want to re-install GOP leaders in power (i.e., Fox News, Limbaugh, the right-wing blogosphere, GOP House members) possibly make common cause in any coherent way with those who are in favor of limited federal government power, reduced debt, privacy, and Constitutional protections --
Another fair statement.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
But all that said, there are some identifiable -- and plainly valid -- underlying causes to these protests that are neither Republican nor Democratic, or even left or right. That's when conventional political language ceases to be useful.
Is opposition to the Wall Street bailout (supported by both parties' establishments) left or right? How about the view that Washington is inherently corrupt and beholden to the richest corporate interests and banks which, through lobbyist influence and vast financial contributions, own and control our political system? Is hostility towards Beltway elites liberal or conservative? Is opposition to the Surveillance State and endless expansions of federal police powers a view of liberals (who vehemently opposed such measures during the Bush era but now sometimes support or at least tolerate them) or conservatives (some of whom -- the Ron Paul faction -- objected just as vigorously, and naturally oppose such things regardless of who is in power as transgressions of the proper limits of government)? Liberals during the Bush era continuously complained about the doubling of the national debt, a central concern of many of these "tea party" protesters. Is the belief that Washington politicians are destroying the economic security of the middle class, while the rich grow richer, a liberal or conservative view? Opposition to endless wars and bankruptcy-inducing imperial policy generally finds as much expression among certain quarters on the Right as it does on the Left.
Some central political debates do break down along standard left-right lines (health care and tax policy). But there are many political issues that defy the conventional Left-Right political drama in which cable news traffics and which serves as the prism -- often the distorting and distracting prism -- for virtually all of our political discourse. Much of the citizen rage manifesting itself in the form of these protests doesn't actually fit comfortably on the left-right spectrum. As Frank Rich accurately observed in the New York Times this weekend:

"Wall Street owns our government," Beck declared in one rant this July. "Our government and these gigantic corporations have merged." He drew a chart to dramatize the revolving door between Washington and Goldman Sachs in both the Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner Treasury departments. A couple of weeks later, Beck mockingly replaced the stars on the American flag with the logos of corporate giants like G.E., General Motors, Wal-Mart and Citigroup (as well as the right’s usual nemesis, the Service Employees International Union). Little of it would be out of place in a Matt Taibbi article in Rolling Stone. Or, we can assume, in Michael Moore’s coming film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which reportedly takes on Goldman and the Obama economic team along with conservative targets.

Are the views expressed in that paragraph liberal or conservative ones? They're neither. Instead, they're the by-product of a completely different dichotomy that is growing in importance: between system insiders and their admirers (those who believe our national political establishment and its elites are basically sound and good) and system outsiders (those whose anger is confined not to one of the two political parties but who instead believe that the political culture itself is fundamentally corrupted and destructive). There are people typically identified as members of either the conventional Right or Left who are, in fact, more accurately described as being in this latter group: those disenchanted with the political culture itself. Anger over the Wall Street bailout and corporate excesses was one example where that trans-partisan disenchantment was evident. The railing by Beck quoted in Rich's paragraph reflects the same thing. And that trans-partisan rage is clearly playing an important role in driving these protest movements.
More fair statements.

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But crucially, it is the Republican Party and its various appendages -- the same people who presided over massive expansions of debt and federal government power -- that are exploiting this citizen activism, and they're harnessing it for their own petty, partisan ends.
Republican party? There's no Republican party.
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on Fox News, which is nothing more than a media outlet for the Republican Party, Wall Street and neoconservatism,
People that live in glass Salon.com houses shouldn't throw stones.
------
I'd buy that - maybe - if I had ever seen such a spectacle before over health care and whatnot, assorted mundane things; but as it stands I don't think anyone can say what's in all of the dissident demonstrator's hearts. Certainly the racists and frustrated far-right ideologues of the country must be among them, no?
Just to reiterate one last time, I've sworn off responding to Right=Racist charges unless I see some legitimate proof of someone in power is racist.
Theoretical examples might be:
  • President that attends racist church for 20 years.
  • Senate leader that was member of KKK.
  • Vice President calling black presidential candidate first articulate black politician.
  • Political/Social organization established to exterminate negros.
I mean, not that any of those things have ever happened. haha..
 
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Tucker

Lion Rampant
#6
Just to reiterate one last time, I've sworn off responding to Right=Racist charges unless I see some legitimate proof of someone in power is racist.
There's no need to hide behind something I didn't say. Remember, some of my best friends are on the right. If thought they were racist, they wouldn't be my friends.

No, what I meant is what I said, which is that racists are undoubtedly out in full force among the others, who will fail to weed them out as they always fail to do.
{quote]

  • President that attends racist church for 20 years.
  • Senate leader that was member of KKK.
  • Vice President calling black presidential candidate first articulate black politician.
  • Political/Social organization established to exterminate negros.
I mean, not that any of those things have ever happened. haha..[/quote]

Haha is right! Our half-white president doesn't hate his own mother; Sen. Byrd has publicly and repeatedly denounced the KKK; Biden didn't say "politician," he was referring only to presidential candidates; and I have no idea what the fourth distortion is based on.

Liberal racism, lol. There's never been any such thing and you know it.

Do me a favor, please, MiT; if you respond to my post, tell me why the racists are all politely sitting this one out... and what have we here?

 

MenInTights

not a plastic bag
#7
Any racist in the movement are small and without power. I went to all of the meetings in Alaska, went to all the protest and there was never even a hint of racism. Mainstream media is fueling the idea that its racial motivated because they don't understand it.
I didn't see Obama on Letterman, but I read that he told Letterman: I was black before the election, people aren't protesting me because I'm black. :thumbup:

There's going to be a small percent of people that jump on the bandwagon like those crazy LaRouche people at the Frank meeting. But I honestly believe you're talking about minuscule percentages of people in the movement.

 

Tucker

Lion Rampant
#9
Any racist in the movement are small and without power.
That's what I'd like to think. It isn't what I think. Data continues to arrive and we shall see.

I went to all of the meetings in Alaska, went to all the protest and there was never even a hint of racism.
That's not hard to believe. Minnesotans probably wouldn't go for that, either. Others clearly do. Many signs are inarguably racist and indicative of much more than an interest in politics.

Mainstream media is fueling the idea that its racial motivated because they don't understand it.
The media reports the news. We all rely on it for information. Only when it's news we don't like do we seem skeptical of its truth.

I didn't see Obama on Letterman, but I read that he told Letterman: I was black before the election, people aren't protesting me because I'm black. :thumbup:
Honorable guy, that one. Here are a few more Obama quotes you might actually like, MiT:
Al Qaeda is still a threat. We cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything is going to be OK.

I think it is important for Europe to understand that even though I am president and George Bush is not president, Al Qaeda is still a threat.

There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America.

We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated.

We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.

Why can't I just eat my waffle?
LMAO, ever hear of "affirmative action"
Yes, and every racist I ever knew despised it with a passion. That's not saying you are one if you do, but this has been my experience with racists: not for it.